Wednesday 25 March 2009

Damn your eyes Dino Cards!


Why are children so fickle and mean? Here's my situation:

My five year old son is a sensitive soul. He gets easily upset, he doesn't have terrific social skills, it takes him a while to join in, yet once he's comfortable, he can turn quite bossy and aggressive. So not terrifically helpful in the making friends department. Yet underneath it all he can be a sweet little boy who just wants to fit in.

When he started school, his best friend was the little boy across the road. They'd only just gotten to know each other but they stuck to each other as they faced the newness of school together. They have very similar temperaments. Both sensitive, both clingy.

Over the past few months the arguments between them seem to have escalated. There've been plenty of 'Well I'm not your friend anymore' type moments, but they've been swiftly replaced with statements like 'I'm going to marry J when I'm older.' It's a love hate thing.

However, enter the ominous prescence of DINO KING TRADING CARDS. Last year, Go Gos were all the rage. The must have craze, without which my son might surely die. So we stocked up on sodding Go Gos. That was like sooo last year dude. Now Dino King Trading Cards are the MUST HAVE item for every cool kid in the school.

So friend across the road (J) and a boy in year 1 (I) both had some cards. My son didn't. Both he and I were blissfully unaware of the uber-coolness dino cards inferred on their bearers. However, within a day of these boys having the cards, the nagging started. I ignored it as I was still admiring my array of Go Gos yet to be doled out for good behaviour. But as the nagging escalated I began to see why.

Every morning in the playground I&J (which incidentally is a name of a frozen fish company in South Africa, but that's probably not relevant) would huddle together looking at each other's cards, physically blocking my son out. It was heartbreaking to see. What was more heartbreaking was having my son come home every day and cry that he had no friends because he didn't have any trading cards.

My heart strings were well and truly plucked so I ordered a batch off the internet and got a pack for immediate gratification while we waited for the internet order to arrive. The next day my son got to school, proudly carrying his cards and he rushed up to his friends so that he could at last fit in. But he still wasn't cool. Because they both had DINO CARD HOLDERS! Let me explain. These things are large, chunky pieces of plastic crap that cost £18. All they do is make a couple of sounds and can hold one card. Whoopdedoo.

But without a Dino Card Holder, my son might as well have dyed his hair ginger, worn thick specs and covered his face with spots - such was his uncoolness. After much arguing and lamenting and ranting and raging we agreed that he could use his birthday money to buy a dino card holder, even though I strongly advised against it. This ended in an almighty meltdown when he realised that he was going to actually have to part with his own money, but he got over it.

So equipped with cards (including the pack off the internet by this stage) and the dino card holder, he headed off to school, at long last worthy enough to be spoken to by his friends. The joy lasted for a few days.

But for the last week, he has come home and cried saying that both I&J refused to trade cards with him. They tell him his cards are rubbish and not 'strong enough' (which I assume means something in dino-ease but I'm not sure what) and just won't let him into the inner circle of two. I can see it at the school gate in the morning, where J speaks to my son until I arrives, and then he's frozen out.

Now part of me makes me want to ram their little sodding heads together and say: STOP BEING SO MEAN! But part of me also wonders whether my son has done something to prompt this behaviour from them. As I explained at the beginning, he can get bossy and aggressive, so maybe he's been that way with the cards. Who knows. I'm not in the school. I can't see what goes on.

I'd laugh it all off but it is so heartbreaking to hear my son saying: "I&J are having a sleepover this weekend. I is J's new best friend. I don't really have any friends anymore."

I'd like to blame it all on the dino cards, but I fear if it wasn't that, it would be something else. The only advice I can give my son is to treat people the way you want to be treated and hopefully they'll be nice back to you. But somehow I don't think five year olds operate that way.


Anonymous said...

That's so heartbreaking. It's like reliving all your worst bits of school - but it's worse because it's your child and you would do anything for them not to suffer.
We went through the Go Go nightmare and now we're in the middle of the Match Attax (football cards) nightmare.
The Go Gos now just serve to get stuck in the soft bits of my feet!

Mutter said...

Damn these cards, they are the curse of modern day living, (along with one or two other things perhaps) and whilst creating misery in the playground are just lining the pockets of some huge corporate execs who don't give a monkey's about our kids. There, I feel better now.

Nicola said...

I am so grateful that my 5 yr old hasn't gotten into all the trading cards yet...but I guess it is bound to happen and this scenario is likely to repeat itself in my life. I really feel for you - and your boy. It brings back such horrid memories of my own school days and feeling ostricised by friends. All you want is for your kids to be happy to and have lovely friends. Hard to deal with these issues in life as adults but so heartbreaking when you're 5. And when you're the mum having to witness it all but being powerless to do anything about it. Bless

Anonymous said...

Yes it is rotten isn't it. I doubt your son has done anything wrong actually. The other younger child is probably really impressed the older child is paying him so much attention (it's cool to have an older buddy) and I'll tell you this, three kids in a group rarely if ever works. Probably the older child doesn't fit in with his own age group at this time and is happy to be doted on by the younger child. When my kids were littlies the school got so fed up with lost and/or stolen cards and fights and tears they banned the lot of them even the silly collector toys etc. It seemed harsh at the time but boy was it a relief.

katyboo1 said...

You know, I think one of the reasons why kids behave like this is because they have so little power in their home lives, always at someone else's beck and call, that they like to exercise the little power they do have at school, usually with amazingly brutal results.

One of the things that worked with my kids was encouraging them to ignore the mean kids. It's hard, but if you can do it you usually find that it breaks the power balance and the other kids are so intrigued that 'your' child is not rising to the usual bait that they will become friends once more.

Easy to say. Hard to do.

Poor little bugger.

Home Office Mum said...

Thanks to all for the comments. And patchworkmaniac (hello, not sure we've met!) I think you're spot on. I spoke to J's mum this morning and raised the delicate subject emphasising that I wasn't sure why my son was being excluded and that it might be his own doing. I asked whether J had come home saying anything about my son being mean or nasty. Apparently not. But he did say that we wasn't trading cards with my son anymore. His mum told him to be nice, and she was upset to know that he was still not being nice. She's promised to chat to him and hopefully they'll include my son a bit more.

it's a nightmare as it's a tiny school and there are only 13 kids in total in year R and 1 and there's no way my son will play with the girls who make up half that number, so it doesn't leave him with a vast array of friends to choose from.

I can't believe how I've got sucked into this playground politics. But it is so sad to see him miserable. he's never been a fan of school and this is making it worse. This morning he told me: I don't like school mummy. All we ever do is learn stuff.

Yup, that's kinda what school's about mate...

b said...

Bless him, it is really hard, J mum sounds nice and it is nice of her to try and smooth things over, you need to invite each boy over singly to play and others so that your son gets the one to one with them and also gets used to others, because if the other two see him playing with the other children, they will also want to play and it will increase his confidence. Good luck

justme said...

This post upset me SO much. I hate hate HATE how mean kids can be to each other. And though I have never even heard of Dino cards, I wanted to rush out immediately and by super duper extra 'strong' cards and parcel them off to your son at once. But of course you are is NOT about the cards really. It will be something else next month. No useful advice to offer.....just sympathy!

Anonymous said...

Oh god. My heart bleeds for him - and for you. It's awful to be in this position. There is so little you can do to help them.
I second what Katyboo said. My 10yo recently had problems with a girl at school and I have encouraged her to keep away from this girl. The child in question has had some major upheavals at home and I think that she did things to Poss to feel powerful and in control of something.
Hope it gets better for him.

Welsh Girl said...

God children can be hideous to each other. I agree with katyboo that this sounds like a power struggle rather than being about the cards. I & J are just enjoying being able to choose not to let your boy join in. I've no idea how to fix it - wish I did 'cos then I'd tell you and you could fix it! xx

Home Office Mum said...

Thanks ALi, B and Justme (so sweet of you to want to send him cards)

Well that chat by Js mum has helped a bit and today he not only traded cards but gave my son cards. She's suggested a bunch of playdates too so hopefully it will all be resolved. Here's hoping.

Home Office Mum said...

Sorry Welsh, I posted before I saw you did. I wish I had the solution too. Kids are kids. Mean little buggers. Hope the house move is going well!

Anonymous said...

Oh blimey, it's awful when situations like that develop. My daughter (also 5)has a love-hate relationship with a few of her friends. I'm amazed at how intense it can all get at such a young age.

"Moaning Mum" said...

Oh now 'Go-Go's are 'so last year'?!
Do you know how long it took for me to figure out what the heck they were, why my two young boys seemed prepared to strangle each other to the death for one of them, and how much MONEY i had to spend to buy some on ebay??!! URGHGHHH :)

Anonymous said...

Oh how sad for you to see. Show your son he is better than crappy old Dino cards - start a new craze you can share together.

nixdminx said...

the perils of the playground. it's scary and you can't be there with them. my daughter gets really upset about stuff like that but they do toughen up a bit. as they say though, two's company, three's a no no..

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